Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Building Software for People (A Challenge to the Open Source Community)

A few years ago I was having a play with Blender. To those unfamiliar with it, it's a 3d animation tool. You build up models and can then animate them (though I never did get to the animation parts - preferring instead to build some amazingly cool looking scenes instead).

There's a problem with it though. Blender, while incredibly powerful and results in some amazing results, suffers from something that I comment on from time to time. Occasionally I'll be asked about an open source equivalent of X program. Google is my friend (so long as I allow them to try and run my life and provide them with all sorts of information about me - I'll do a post on this at some point). I search for it and come up with a recommendation. More often than not though, I'll install that recommendation and within 2 minutes find myself saying those god awful words.

"It's built by nerds for nerds".

Back to Blender. Probably the most complete documentation for Blender is a tutorial called "Blender 3D: Noob to Pro". The bit which really annoyed me I think has since (and not before time) been removed. In the introduction they ranted and raved about how great the interface to Blender is and how you'll wonder why the same interface isn't used on every piece of software.

The reason isn't so foreign to most users. The problem with the interface is that:
  1. It's counter intuitive.
  2. It requires a great deal of memory. i.e. coming back to Blender requires trying to figure out all of those magic keys you knew at some point.
In programming, magic numbers are discouraged. If you must use numbers, assign them to variables so that they're named. For example, you never have 0.15 to represent the 15% for gst. Instead, you'd make a variable (or constant) called GST_RATE or some such thing. So every time you need to represent the GST rate in your code, it makes some sort of sense.

Magic keys are the same sort of thing. Sure, we have shortcut keys. We've always got long ways of getting there. And there are established standards for shortcuts (like Ctrl-Z - undo, Ctrl-X - cut etc.) so, while they might not be immediately intuitive, it's fairly trivial to learn more shortcut keys the more you use an application.

So recently I had a look at the program Comic Life. It's horribly basic. When I asked someone about it, the comic functionality itself is really horribly basic but kids LOVE the word art type stuff. The functionality can be replicated, and is in some ways better, in Scribus - an amazingly cool piece of open source desktop publishing software.

The problem with Scribus? It's not really made to be simple. To position an image within a frame, you can't drag the image with the mouse. Instead, you deal with x and y positions accessible via spinners. Selecting objects can be a hassle if the boundaries of objects cross. Text styles are a bit of a mission to establish - and without them, text can become quite mangled.

The results though are really amazingly cool. I could probably use it to make a comic strip. I would hesitate to recommend it as an easy tool for kids to design their own comics.

So if Scribus is around 90% of the way there and really, removing a bunch of features (or simply hiding them) should be fairly trivial, why is the FLOSS community not building loads of variations for people to use?

Scribus could be built to loads of different purposes which are easy to use rather than one application that does everything but uptake isn't great because with all that flexibility comes complexity. Open Office could be something fantastic if you could make it work in smarter ways (get rid of the character level formatting controls and allow the user to just use styles).

There's been this whole discussion on money and FLOSS. How do you make money from FLOSS? I sincerely believe it's by making the software start to work for people. People will pay for something to be developed that works intuitively for them. In which case, I think FLOSS software needs to start thinking in terms of an engine and interfaces. Here's the functionality. How that's compiled and presented in the interface is an entirely different matter. This means that the majority of the code is still a single code base. The only thing that changes is how it's presented to the user.

The GNU/Linux stack already does this with X. X-Windows sits underneath. On top of that is a Window or Compositing Manager (Metacity, Mutter, Kwin, Compiz etc.). And on top of that a desktop environment of some sort - Gnome, KDE, Xfce, Fluxbox, Enlightenment etc. In other words, the user has choice while using much the same technology and code base.

I guess, all it really needs is the theory to be tested. If you build it in a way that multiple interfaces can be used, and make it simple for the end user, how great will the uptake be?

Tuesday, February 28, 2012


So Baillie commented on the last post about the "Better Living" ads. I've been thinking about this problem for a little while.

I caught the end of a documentary on TVNZ 7 (it annoys me that I simply don't have the time to watch things like Back Benches and Media 7 these days) which was talking about drinkable water. A company sold bottled water promising that a large portion (if not all) of their profits would go into providing drinkable water to those most in need.

This doesn't quite sit well with me. You're selling a bunch of single use bottles in order to help people. But those bottles, if put into a landfill, last a couple of hundred years to deteriorate.

"But we recycle", you might say. I point you to this quote:
More than 2.4 billion pounds of plastic bottles were recycled in 2008. Although the amount of plastic bottles recycled in the U.S. has grown every year since 1990, the actual recycling rate remains steady at around 27 percent.
From this site.

This is a logarithmic curve. 27% gets recycled. Of that 27%, only 27% of those get  recycled. And so on and so forth. This is assuming that it gets recycled back into the product you've just thrown to recycling. Milk bottles apparently get made into road paint. Glass can end up in asphalt etc. Of course, these things don't get recycled.

So what needs to happen?

In India, and I hesitate to use India as a good example of environmental awareness, you have two options for drinks. You can buy a glass bottle, and drink on the premises - for which that bottle is then reused (not recycled - washed and reused) - or you can pay significantly more for a plastic bottle that you can take away with you.

I found it a little funny when I, as a tourist, was able to bring a tray of beers into a dry state in India. When I left, a great aunt was flabbergasted when I gave what was left of the tray to an Uncle. The problem? They were aluminium cans - and worth something. The fact that they were full of beer was insubstantial. As far as she was concerned, the beer had no value. The aluminium could be exchanged for cash.

A few years ago a friend and I went to a "Trailer Trash" party. We brought a swap a crate, dressed for the occasion and entered the party carrying the crate between us. I didn't quite understand the "Swap" bit in swap a crate. Instead, I threw one of the bottles in a recycling bin. It's the environmentally responsible thing to do right?

But no. The whole idea is that you return the crate, with the bottles. The bottles are reused, and in exchange, you can get another crate at a reduced rate.

You have to wonder at a society where one of the most environmentally friendly ways of consuming a beverage is only possible if you:
  1. Buy more of that beverage.
  2. Drink alcohol.
Add to that the sort of pressure the advertising industry is putting on us. Apparently, better living is achievable by using what are ultimately pointless products. You can store your food in the fridge in these handy disposable plastic containers! Okay - so you can use them more than once. How do they compare to something like Tupperware in terms of reuse?

I got a notice last year on my recycling bin. Apparently, though there are no clear guidelines that have been made evident to me about what you can and can't put in the recycling bin, I'm not allowed to put plastic bags in the recycling bin. They are recyclable. They can't be recycled via your recycling bin.

The bits that end up in your recycling bin, aren't always recycled. Take your mixed plastic containers such as yoghurt pots and some bottles (such as those that Primo comes in). There is no demand for recycled products of this type, so they still end up in land fills.

And besides which, it's always been: Reuse, recycle, reduce. So why don't we reuse more often? We're told that plastic deteriorates and releases dangerous chemicals.

What if we stopped using plastic? Can we not use glass? Okay - so the act of making glass results in carbon emissions. What if glass bottles were made to be more robust, such as those in India? The bottles could then be reused. Sure, products such as Coke would come in bottles that might, at times, seem a little rough. But why should that stop us from being environmentally friendly?

Reusable grocery bags bother me as well. We've gone from using disposable plastic bags to bags still made from hydrocarbons, but are less likely to rip after 1 or 2 uses. What would have been so wrong about paying perhaps $2-3 on bags made from more natural products such as cotton?

But what really annoys me. Despite the fact that I stubbornly refuse to use plastic bags. I've brought a soda stream machine so that I can have carbonated drinks without using disposable bottles. I'm quite happy with refrigerated tap water. I reuse where I can and recycle. There are:
  1. People who seem to think that it's okay to use this crap without any regard to the world around them.
  2. Businesses who offer you a bag for every freakin' thing.
A couple of years ago Countdown or Foodtown (I forget which) advertised that their staff would pack at least 5 items in each bag. Go down to the supermarket, and they were still packing 2 to 3 items in each bag. Their staff weren't trained. And why should they care? They're on very low wages. They've got other worries.

Could Coke make a huge grab for the market by offering concentrates of their drinks? Ethical and potentially a huge piece of the market. I doubt it'll happen. Still, it's nice to not completely rule out the possibility.

Let's quit this whole recycling buzz people. Let's reuse instead...

Monday, February 27, 2012

Advertising Gone Wrong

Kids - don't read this post. Seriously. It's for adults.

This isn't the first time I've commented on inappropriate advertising. I found myself sitting next to this ad this morning - a version of it in portrait (rather than landscape) is on bus stops all over the place. I found myself feeling vaguely uncomfortable.

It's not the fact that it's targeting a very specific market. Well okay - there is a little bit of that. 

If you were to replace the shirtless guy fondling kiwi fruit with a woman doing the same, would the ad not be deemed inappropriate? It turns out that the fruit store is a great pick up joint. Carry a basket around with a banana pointing up and you're sure to score! If you don't like to leave things to chance, fondle a couple of kiwi fruit while bending over.

If you really love yourself, you'll make sure if you're in this position, that you'll have a condom easily accessible. If you're likely to take advantage of such a position, make sure you advertise the fact that you're into safe sex on your clothing.

But never mind my unease at the overtly, attention seeking, shocking image. It's more the tagline - Get It On! It's not the tagline - it's the little symbol next to the tagline that REALLY bothers me. You can't really see it in that image. Here's another source for it:

New Zealand. With a condom over it. As if it were a penis. I don't know how the rest of New Zealand feels about this, but I'm offended by it. Who thought THAT was a good idea?

Have you noticed the number of ads that have got "regular Joe" in them?

The New Zealand Fire Service would like you to listen to drunken idiots tell you that you should go grab a kebab or burger rather than go home and cook. Cause, you know... drunken idiots are such a credible source of sage advise.

The New Zealand Transport Authority, often under fire for their advertising, have a bunch of posters around the place with comments from facebook and txt. Again, such brilliant sources!

Of course, this is what advertising does. Brand Power, which in itself is a brand, tries to create a rapport with the viewer by having one person sell multiple brands. Suddenly advertising seems to lose any sort of credibility.
This post has not been sponsored by:
  • Get It On - a campaign by Bro, The New Zealand Aids Foundation,, Durex, and the Auckland Sexual Health Service.
  • The New Zealand Fire Service - taking and dispensing advise from dunken people since Bob knows when.
  • The New Zealand Land Transport Safety Authority - txt a message now. Txt's cost $0.20 per txt. Ask the bill payer first.
  • Brand Power - helping you buy crap from the highest bidder.
Hmmm... I wonder if this blog could make money just for linking to those images....

Why Am I Not Writing?

I was thinking about this today. You'll notice that the hit counter on the side is currently looking horribly sad. A few month's ago I had a stellar month where I had almost 1,000 hits. Now I'm just over 350.

A couple of weeks ago a friend asked why I wasn't writing so much. I'd responded that it was because I was being whingy or preachy.

"But that's pretty much what blogs are", he responded.

I'm not sure I fully agree with that. I've seen some brilliant blogs with tutorials and technical information. Even comedy. Hell, this blog was proof that blogs didn't have to be about cats. But let's face it. This blog, from it's inception, with me whinging about the quality of media and news in the country, and being disgusted by it, was always pretty whingy and preachy.

So what's changed?

I think I've lost confidence. It'll come back. The awesomeness hasn't gone. It's my confidence in that awesomeness that's on holiday.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Security in I.T.

Security in the Information Technology field is an excuse to screw things up a lot of the time.

Think about it. Where should security be implemented? It's fairly well accepted, by those in the know, that once physical access has been gained, all bets are off. For example, on a Linux system, point init to be something other than upstart or init-v. Like a shell for example. On Windows, normally an installation cd will give you enough access to reset passwords. Ditto with a Mac OSX installation disk. Think you can avoid this by locking it away behind the BIOS? It's fairly trivial to reset a BIOS, or even to remove a hard drive and put it in another machine. Security in this case only slows someone down.

So the desktop is a lousy place to implement security. If someone tells you differently, they're probably trying to sell you something. I saw a comment that suggested that most businesses require their users to use encrypted hard drives. Enter in a password to be able to access anything. I don't think the figures the person quoted are anywhere near the truth, and if they are, they're frightening. It's my theory that security on the desktop is ill-conceived at best.

I was helping a school out with their iGovt account. For whatever reason, Firefox wasn't allowing them to sign in citing that it needed cookies. Stupid generic error that didn't help in the least. Anyway, the user kept getting a incorrect password being used message. So she got a temporary one, and went to set her password to what she had thought the password was. Nope. Didn't work. Instead she got a message saying "You can not use the 6 previously used passwords".

Part of the trade off of putting loads of security on is that you actually lose security. Your users start to work against you. They write down the password. Or use something based on the date (seen this one at another school that forces a weekly password change). Change the password 6 times arbitrarily just to use the password you want to use. Post it notes or stickers on the side of the monitor. If you frustrate your users, your users find ways around it.

This is security 101. I've said to people "I don't really care about security. I just want to get on with work". The number of people telling me that I really should care or think I should be impressed because they're keeping up to date with various vulnerabilities is really surprising.

I would be so much more impressed and surprised by geeks who think of the end user first.

I was at a meeting where I told the guy my background. That my job was a consequence of a passion. I've been getting a fair amount of flak about my lack of desktop skills. I haven't used Windows for a very long time and have never been a Mac OSX person. Don't get me wrong - in terms of people skills, I'm probably okay. I do tend to ignore instructions like "don't get waylaid by people" and instead try to follow a procedure i.e.

  1. Approach the user about the problem so that I can hopefully understand what it is they're wanting. This one is really important as it is so easy to get it wrong. For example, today I got asked "Do you know how to connect something to the server?". It turns out they don't talk about networks. The network is a non-entity. It doesn't exist. Instead, everything is connected to "the server". Never mind the fact that most of what they do happens in the cloud. So get them to show me the problem. I answered "no" as this was safest at the time. I outright refused when I realised what it was they were wanting.
  2. Get UAT. User Acceptance Testing is important. You can not be sure you've taken the right action if you haven't made sure that the user is happy.
  3. Throughout it all, become a Buddhist monk. I am centred. The only person that exists at the time of helping someone is the person I'm helping. I am patient and more zen than thou. I think I've only almost lost it once towards the end of last year when I user was insistent that the wireless network didn't work at all even though her machine was unplugged from the network and she was surfing the net.
But in terms of desktop support, I'm more of a diagnostician. Go away, think about the problem, come up with the most likely causes, quite likely come back the next day to sort it out.

So much of what goes wrong on a user's desktop is due to security. Linux has the keyring in gnome which seems to go out of sync with the users password requiring the user to manually type in a password to do something that should be easy like connecting to a wireless network (how about making it a system connection by default or making it easy to do this when setting up the connection for the first time?). Access to printers using department codes or user codes which require the use of very specific drivers. Tying down the network to only allow a very small number of clients (killer in a 1:1 programme).

I've been called out for each and every one of those scenarios. You've got to ask what is it that they're trying to secure? If you think of security as a great big ugly footprint, then how can you reduce it? Do users have to have a rotten experience to protect data that probably doesn't need protecting? Can you instead secure just a small area?

There is one location that I have to go to every time there's a new user. It's not to provision accounts or anything, but because there's this ill-conceived sense of security the customer gets by not revealing their passwords to the users. Never mind the fact that they can go back in and find out those passwords.

Instead, the users lack confidence. They're like battered wives asking for permission for anything they do.

So, if you pride yourself on saying you follow computer security developments, you really should be asking yourself, how does this effect the user experience? At what point does more security make things less secure? Do you really understand the customer's requirements? Does the customer understand the trade off between security and usability? etc.

Monday, February 20, 2012

But the Internet in New Zealand is Pathetic!

Wow! I'm sitting here watching 3 news. Every time something like this comes up I also feel I should be more surprised that I am. The story?

Stephen Fry posted on twitter his frustration with New Zealand's broadband.

For the news story? Bring on a representative from Telecom and make sure the New Zealand public know that it was all Stephen's fault. If he hadn't actually used the Internet, he wouldn't have gone over his data cap (just think - the term data cap is short for "data capture" anywhere except New Zealand).  Reiterate that it was Stephen's fault, not the incredibly crappy Internet plans in New Zealand.

I'm currently paying $50 / month for 50 GB. $1 per GB. It's advertised as costing $40 / month. I could pay an extra $10 for 100GB - but that's $10 / month that I could save.

Dial up speed... you go over your data cap, you'll get throttled down to dial up speed. What the fornication!? Where else in the world would you find them using terms like "dial up speed"?

But quite apart from that, what is TV3's big interest in protecting what is essentially a crappy practise in New Zealand?

TVNZ went with Clare Curren's stating that Stephen just said what everyone here is thinking.


I got a text on Saturday night asking if I wanted to meet up with a friend for drinks. I'd text him a couple of weeks ago asking where he'd been so I was keen.

We'd sat there catching up. This friend has always been horribly social, so he'd said "hi" to just about anyone who went by. Soon enough a girl had joined the table. A backpacker from Hong Kong. We'd got to talking and I had told her a little bit about some of my volunteer efforts.

By the end of the night, when I went to shake her hand, she'd held on to my hand, smiled at me, and told me to keep up my volunteer efforts.

Rewind to last year. At the end of the year I found myself annoyed. One of the schools (not part of the project) that I'd helped had with one hand, given someone in the same building as me a thank you gift, and on the other hand, someone else from the same school had come and asked me to do a little more work for them. No thanks involved.

Fast forward to now. They're still trying to get me to things for them whether via a guilt trip or pressure from elsewhere.

I haven't done anything as a volunteer for a while now. Okay - so I work far more hours than I'm paid for, so I still consider myself to volunteer on the project to some extent. I don't go to the One Laptop Per Child meet up these days. I still trawl the New Zealand based Linux mailing lists seeing if I might be able to help with an email here and there. So okay, it's in my blood.

I want to help. I really do.

A few years ago, a friend's mother stopped volunteering. She had worked with a bunch of organisations mainly around children. When I asked her what made her stop, she'd said it was a lack of appreciation. She'd been kicked by a horse on an outing with kids while doing one of her volunteer outings and no one had shown her any real concern. They'd sent her home. No one offered to drive her home/to the hospital/local clinic.

And hey, it's very easy to take volunteers for granted. Those that do it with a passion just always seem to be there. But it's those same ones who show the most commitment time and time again who eventually give it up because the people around them just don't seem to realise that they're just not showing any sort of appreciation for that time and commitment. Think about the loss of those passionate people... Where a bottle of wine, a six pack, a card, a bit of concern... just some sort of token of appreciation would have kept them doing what they do.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Has Canonical Lost the Plot?

For those not in the know, Canonical is the commercial company behind Ubuntu. They sell services.

They've announced "Ubuntu Business Remix". You have to register to download it. This is for licensing reasons on some of the components included.

The problem I have with it though - What's the point?

Every time you have to set up a computer, you install an OS, remove the bits you don't want, install the bits you do want. What advantage does a business remix have? It doesn't include games. It's got a few bits that require registration.

What if, instead, Canonical concentrated on something like "kickstart"? Kickstart is a way of configuring an installation of RedHat for mass deployments. Throw in a directory service (ldap - basically an equivalent to Microsoft Active Directory) and you're probably really close to what a business is likely to want/need. Even though I think this is an outdated model. It has the advantage over Redhat in that the users can run EXACTLY the same system at home with all the branding and bits they feel comfortable with.

A bit of infrastructure - an Ubuntu branded PXE (Preboot eXecution Environment - booting from a network server) server. Allowing some controls on the repositories i.e. allow the users the freedom to install what they need to work in the way they're comfortable (allowing users their choice of web browser for example) while allowing some applications to be blacklisted such as Drugwars. GUI based configuration tools to be able to do some of those more business orientated things like policies.

Linux has the advantage over Windows in that it's module system is more robust i.e. you're less likely to find that your computer crashes because a driver/module is on the system that isn't needed for your system. Boot times are drastically reduced. Things are customizable to a much greater degree meaning you can work in a way you're comfortable with. Things like hardware drivers tend to get more stable, rather than less (as manufacturers lose interest in supporting order products. How many times do people buy new printers because their old one is no longer supported in a newer version of Windows?).

So hey - there's a real opportunity here for Canonical. However, I think it's in the tools, not in a remix.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The Lack of Pain

Well... It happened. The third. These things do only happen in 3's right?

Yesterday (Valentines) started out really badly. I woke up late (again) and had to go and pop by a couple of schools to drop something off. Sod it. Got a taxi. Did find out that rather than the person that the sticks were intended for getting them, someone else up and took them. I've got to say I'm incredibly annoyed by it.

I suppose I should say something about the sticks. I'm now able to "supplement" the image. Rather than having to build a whole new image, I can throw packages on the stick and have them install after imaging. This should lead to faster response time in fixing bugs on the stick and gives me a much better chance of coming up with a bug free image.

One of the biggest things I've noticed is that I'm able to test at a site before imaging. This is huge! Rather than having to image and then go back and fix the problems found, I can go to site, do a little testing and fix them right there on the spot. But why wait until I'm on site to test? It's getting unmanageable doing the testing. I'm normally in such a rush to get it done that testing is minimal at best. And then, I may have changed similar files for each site - so, at the moment, potentially 10 different packages at a time. And that's always in bunches. So 4 or 5 different sets of packages. That means 50 odd packages to test each time. The time needed to test that is a lot more than I'm able to do when building an image.

So anyway - I was running around yesterday like a blue "donkey"'ed fly. Literally. My bottle of blue fountain pen ink opened in my bag and I didn't notice until it was too late.

So a new pair of jeans was in order (given that one pair got a hole in 'em from my fall the other day) and my 2nd pair were now more blue than any jeans have a right to be.

So the plus side. The ink is water soluble so those jeans and that shirt aren't wrecked as I feared. That was the third - it didn't involve any pain. Yesterday in general did cost a bit of money though. Still, if that's all out of the way... Oh. My pen broke today.

I am getting the feeling that people just aren't listening to me at the moment. That's pretty crap.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Feeling Paranoid

It's been awhile... I saw a friend who I haven't seen for a few months and he was saying that I'm so seldom around that the best way for him to keep up with what's going on is to read this blog. I've got to admit to having a little crisis of self. I've been so very self-absorbed and let's face it, a blog is basically someone talking and hoping others are listening. This was all so much easier when I was just talking to myself.

I've been reading a bit of Kurt Vonnegut lately. He's definitely one of my favourite authors. Always so... real. He was incredibly good at placing a character in amongst larger events and seeing things from their perspective. To the extent where that character is the larger event. When reading something, I find that I start thinking in terms of their writing style. So I find myself thinking in small segments that allow for tangents.

It's been a few weeks since I read the last one. I'm now reading Great Expectations again. I'm also reading the picture book that is the road code. "See car. See car go. Go car, go". As soon as I can find the time, I'll be booking myself in for the test to sit my learners. Yay mo-ped! So I don't really have the style down. Still, I can at the very least use the short bits to allow for tangents...

- = -

The other day I was heading to work. I had gotten off my first bus and was walking down Queen St to my second bus.

* * *

I can't help but think of the post I did last year, A day in the life 1. I was happy then.

* * *

I've just crossed the first set of lights when I feel a twinge in my back.

"This isn't good" I think. It's getting worse. Step after step. I see a bench a few meters in front of me.

"No problem" thinks I, "get to the seat".

So I struggle on. By the time I get to the bench, I'm in agony. I've stopped breathing for the pain. I sit down and I feel a wave of pain go up my spine. I'm not getting comfortable, and nothing's clicking.

I test myself getting up. Yup. That's not going to work. Now what?

* * *

I have to remark now as to how well we as a people have detached ourselves from each other. It's not uncommon to completely lose yourself while listening to music and seeing the masses around you as nothing more than moving obstacles while walking through town.

* * *

Out with the cellphone. I organise to be picked up. It's going to be awhile though. It's the first thing in the morning. No one else at home is dressed yet. I can't get comfortable. I wonder what we did before cellphones. I find it troubling that I've had to ask the question though the answer comes to me almost immediately.

* * *

A woman comes and sits down next to me. She smiles at me. I do my best to smile back. I'm trying to take as much pressure off my back as humanly possible in which case I have my elbows up and I'm looking kind of intense and well... if I'd seen me, I'd have thought "creepy".

We do our best to ignore each other. Such is life.

* * *

My ride finally arrives. I manage to get up.... well mostly up. My back resembles a question mark. I'm not at all sure what I'm asking. Probably a whingy "Why?!". Seems a good all encompassing question. Besides which, isn't that what we spend our lives asking?

* * *

The woman sees me and a look of understanding comes to her face. I'm not intense and creepy. I'm in pain and doing my best not to pass out in pain.

* * *

In my over thinking way (I have this scene in my head of "over thinkers anonymous". My name is Nevyn and I've been thinking... and so on and so forth) I relate this chance encounter to some of the most important relationships in my life.

- = -

Anyway... so... crap back. I ended up having to take 2 days off work. That got messy. So I worked the weekend (surprise surprise). I think I'm nearing the point where I could stop working in the weekends. I've got a few things to do. Version control for starters. This is pretty high on my agenda. It's just that it's kind of a major undertaking. 71 packages in all. That's about to increase as I split a package up. I'm not sure how to handle the code for Keys to the Castle which isn't packaged. I worked pretty late on Sunday night, grabbed a taxi home and...

There's a bank up the road and given that I never carry cash, I get the taxi to drop me off there. I cross the road and "bang!". I'm on the ground. I've tripped and landed on my left side. I quickly get myself up and walk on.

I'm walking down the road when a woman asks if I have a cigarette. When I say "no" she starts yelling at me.

"You're lying! I don't care about your issues with your wife or girlfriend or something. I just need a cigarette now." and so on and so forth. Of course, she's right outside a halfway house where someone had been stabbed to death a couple of years previously.

When I get inside, I check. A hole in my jeans. I'm pretty sure my leg is going to bruise up. My elbow looks like someone's taken a cheese grater to it. After cleaning up my elbow a bit, I check my pockets. Sure enough my Android phone's screen is cracked.

- = -

So that's two...

My back isn't feeling too bad. I can at the very least walk around. I noticed today that I seem to have done something to my shoulder - probably during the fall. My thigh hurts something chronic whenever I go to sit down or get up. My elbow stings all the time. I've ordered the parts to be able to fix the phone myself from Amazon though it looks horribly complex.

So I'm waiting for the third. A kick to the nads. That little cheery on top that just makes life complete. It's Valentines day tomorrow. Anything could happen.

Actually.. there is fun to be had on Valentines day. A couple of years ago I had met a friend for a drink on Valentines. He and I had laughed at the ridiculousness of a girl having dressed up in her finest being "accompanied" (he seemed more interested in the store fronts than her) by a young lad wearing baggy jeans and a backward cap.

Oh - and for those of you going for romantic... Romance is a shared moment, a thought for each other, pleasure in each other's company. You won't find it in a bunch of flowers or chocolates.

Just because I'm paranoid, doesn't mean the world isn't out to get me.

Friday, February 3, 2012

If you saw me...

I'm tired... oh so very tired. I've turned my mind to quality control. How can I ensure the quality of the image? I've come across a few mistakes. The funniest one is that I tested the webcam before making the image and so all of the netbooks out there have a picture of me on it. If it was on purpose I would have struck a pose. Doesn't seem such a bad idea. Fun even.

I've decided to work this weekend (surprise surprise). The aims for this weekend?
  • New image incorporating some of the non-Manaiakalani deployments in the same image. (Plus fix mistakes).
  • Find ways of fixing the mistakes found this week for deployments already out there.
  • Finish the functionality for Keys to the Castle such as the ability to clone the stick easily.
  • Come up with a quality control strategy.
That last one is interesting. The problem is that the image always goes live to the end user. I've, up till now, always just been reacting rather than being able to put processes around things. So it's finally time to put on pants (i.e. cover my butt).

And my personal life? Well... it's non-existent. It's easier not to deal with it for the moment. I find myself wanting to write 16 year old poetry (and we all know how I feel about poetry by 16 year olds).

I offer this as an example of just how horribly pathetic poetry can really be.

If You Saw Me

If you saw me struggling with money,
Would you offer to buy me a pie?
If you saw me walking,
Would you offer me a ride?
If you saw me drowning,
Would you offer a breath of air?
If you saw me on the street,
Would you offer more than "hi"?

If you insulted me,
Would you apologise?
If you cared,
Could you tell me what changed?
If I couldn't go with you,
Would you understand?
If you wanted me gone,
Would you say goodbye?

Disclaimer: I am not 16 (Have I ever been?). And this isn't quite what I would describe as "16 year old poetry". I didn't agonise over any of it... The perfect words in the perfect order... pfft.